There's a beautiful Tantric teaching considered to be the culmination of practice that tells us that "an accomplished Yogi is one who has self knowledge" (Shiva Sutras 3:13). The world no longer tells them who they are, but instead, they tell the world who they are. No longer are they bound or guided by memories, tendencies and impressions. And they understand that they are more powerful than their circumstances, and can indeed, shape their circumstances.
For me this is what empowerment looks like. Strong, confident and claiming life as fully our own. The reality is though, for most of us we don't tell the world who we are. Inside we might know or at least have some inkling, but our identities are more often than not shaped not only by our own internal reactions to experiences, our habits and beliefs, but also those of others. It's human nature to take on board what those closest to us think about us regardless of if they differ from how we know and see ourselves.
This has certainly been true for me. I find myself now 53 years of age, with a wealth of life experience, many years of practice and self reflection, yet still uncovering hidden aspects of myself. These unconscious beliefs I have been carrying around are hindering me from having what it is that I desire, from living and being who I am. They are in fact, operating in direct opposition to what I aspire to.
My desire -and ability- to have freedom and variety in life is being overshadowed by my stronger desire to feel like I'm 'working hard' so I can wear the badge of honour of busy-ness. And so, I fill my days with work like tasks, scheduling my day like a 9-5 job, and feeling guilty, like I'm skipping school, if I take time out to do something that is simply pleasurable or not business related. But the truth is, I have the ability and the means to have much more flow in my days. I can choose how my days look, but instead this belief I am holding on to means I sabotage that ability by filling my days with 'work'. Sure stuff needs to happen, but beyond that point, how much time would I have then for other pleasurable pursuits if I just allowed myself to relax into the spaciousness of freedom available to me?
This is the reality for most of us. We are shaped by our beliefs, memories and experiences, and somewhere amongst all the stories we tell ourselves we loose who we truly are. We loose that self-knowledge that allows us to stand in our truth. If we are to fully thrive in life though, it is crucially important that we intentionally work on uncovering what these beliefs and stories are. While no walk in the park, diving into the shadows is ultimately liberating. It's a constant unpeeling, unfurling as more gets removed and something new opens up. We step more fully into our power, our voice becomes stronger and our love and courage grow. Joy becomes a more constant companion.
This is empowerment. This is self-dominion. Being prepared to live in the dark for a while, shining the light of self enquiry on the denseness and unearthing what is holding us back. The Tantric and Yoga traditions are both full of techniques designed to guide us back to the fullest, most vibrant expressions of ourselves. But it requires diligence and discipline, along with courage, to sit with the discomfort. To do the work every single day so slowly more of our essence emerges into the world. Don't we owe that to ourselves?
So dive deep, and uncover what holds you back, discover the stories you tell yourself, and empower yourself with self-knowledge. Then go tell the world exactly who the hell you are. I know I will be.
Empowered You Online Program commences June 1